Posted in History & Literature

Permanent Record

The recording of language was a key development in history that allowed civilisations to flourish. Through recording, we could pass on knowledge and wisdom much more efficiently and securely from generation to generation, unlike oral history which can change over time or be lost when a mass casualty event occurs.

The oldest piece of written history comes from Sumeria over 5,000 years ago, but one could argue that cave paintings such as those found in Lascaux Cave extend that history to more than 17,000 years. Archaeologists have used written records from ancient times to help determine what life was like during those times, and what important events occurred throughout history.

Fast forwarding to now, we live in an information era where there has been a massive explosion of the amount of information produced and recorded, thanks to the development of science and technology. One such development is digital media, which allow us to store a staggering amount of data in small hard disk drives. For example, the entirety of Wikipedia (February 2013 estimate) could just fit into a 10 terabyte HDD. If an archaeologist from the future was to access an archive of the internet from now, they could gain so much insight into our history, knowledge and what day to day life.

Nowadays, most of us store our data digitally, including important documents, precious photos and our entertainment such as music and videos. But unfortunately, as efficient digital storage may be, it is far from permanent.

Digital data comes with the downside that it needs continuous backing up, as data can corrupt and the storage medium can fail. A typical hard disk has a life expectancy of around 5 years, after which the drive will start failing. Servers that manage the cloud need constant maintenance.

If humanity were to suddenly disappear, our troves of digital data would be wiped out within less than a 100 years, like dust in the wind. Even if we took great care to maintain our library of data, a single solar storm could create enough electromagnetic interference to wipe every drive clean.

Contrast this to a book, which can stand the test of time up to many millennia as long as it is preserved well. As novelist Umberto Eco put it:

“The book is like the spoon, scissors, the hammer, the wheel. Once invented, it cannot be improved.”

It is a perfect invention.

Posted in Philosophy

Analog And Digital

We now live in the Digital Age. We take photos with our digital cameras, letting us take thousands of photos as we can easily delete photos that did not turn out well. We write emails on our computers, where we often type and retype, proofreading and editing until we have perfectly sculpted our message. We bombard each other with messages that package complex words and feelings into neat little abbreviations and emoticons.

Going digital has, without a doubt, made our lives easier. Digital is exact and fast, while being easily editable thanks to existing only in virtual space. But what is the price of convenience? Did we lose something in the process?

Before the Digital Age, we used film cameras that required careful photography as we had a limited number of shots per roll of film. We wrote handwritten letters, where we had to give considerable thought to what we were going to write before even picking up the pen, lest we waste another sheet of paper. If we wanted to say something important to someone we cared about, we would do it face to face, or at least over a phone call, where our body language and voice gave off subtle nuances about how we truly felt.

As cumbersome as this sounds, the value of analog is that it focusses on quality, not quantity. We no longer have photo albums that summarise a whole year (or even childhood) in just dozens of carefully curated photos. Instead, we have albums full of hundreds of pictures per day, which we rarely review because there are too many to go through.

The worst consequence of going digital is that our words have lost weight and substance. We throw words at each other like paper planes because we feel compelled to reply in some way. We think less about our choice of words because they are a dime a dozen, yet we overanalyse the meaning of what others say in a message because we have no other cues such as body language. We become hurt by hollow words and emoticons devoid of feeling and personality.

We are still analog. We cannot treat each other like photos that can be taken en masse then culled, or a word document that can be freely edited. We should put more care into the things we say to each other – with more thought, feeling and personality – to avoid hurting each other so much.

Posted in Life & Happiness

Bullet Journal: Basics And Bullets

(This post is a part of the series “How to Bullet Journal”. Read the rest here:

Life can become so busy that sometimes we lose track of things we need to do and things we have done already. A great way to keep track and organise your life is keeping a journal or planner. However, many people find this habit hard to keep up as it can be time-consuming to write diary entries and keeping a rigid planner can be quite cumbersome and boring.

A digital product designer from New York named Ryder Carroll decided to create a simpler system of journaling to combat these problems. The end-result of his many experiments is the Bullet Journal system.
A bullet journal is a note-taking system that is simple, rapid, highly customisable and forgiving.
The point of the system is that it can be as simple and minimalistic as you want, while forgiving you for making mistakes.
The strength of a bullet journal is that because it is so easy to use, it only takes 5-10 minutes of your day.

Your entries should be short, succinct and to-the-point to reduce the time and effort it takes. Because it is non-restrictive and customisable, you can tailor it to your own style and make it interesting so that you can keep it up as a habit.
It is a powerful tool that lets you plan for the future, organise your present and keep a record of your past. Essentially, it is an analogue archive of your life.

Although certain notebooks such as the Leuchtturm 1917 Dotted notebook is best thanks to its customisability, any notebook that you have lying around can become a bullet journal. In fact, it is a great idea to trial a bullet journal on an empty notebook to see if it fits your personality and to experiment with different styles and spreads to make it work the best for you.

Bullet journals utilise different kinds of bullets to simplify your life. It is useful to use three distinctive bullets: Tasks, Events and Notes.

  • A Task is something you have to do. You could use a “.” to denote a task, then cross it with a “X” when it is done. If you can’t finish the task by the set date, you can mark it as “>” to show that you have migrated it, meaning that you will do it by a new due date. Alternatively, you could draw a square for a task, fill in half of it when it is in progress, then completely fill it in when it is finished.
  • An Event is either a scheduled appointment or something that has occurred that day. You can use an “O” bullet, then tick it when it is finished. For example, if you have a dinner or doctor’s appointment, or if a friend just got engaged, you can mark it as an event.
  • Notes are essentially “everything else”. You can use a “” to mark these. These can be a reminder to yourself of something that happened that day, a thought you had, or an observation you made. Essentially, anything from that day that you wanted to record in the journal can be written as a note.
  • The bullet journal is extremely customisable. This means that you can come up with your own bullets depending on what you want to record. For example, you may use “!” for a thought that crossed your mind or “?” to record something you learnt or want to look up later.
  • Bullets can be modified with signifiers, such as putting a “*” next to it to mark how important it is.
  • Because everyone has different preferences on what kind of bullets they use, it is helpful to create a Key at the start of your notebook so that it can index the different bullets you use and describe what they denote.

At its most basic form, all you need is the date, followed by a bullet point list. It’s as simple as that. This is the Daily Log.

That’s all you need to know to start bullet journaling. In the next section, we will look at different modules such as the Monthly Log and Future Log to better organise your life

Examples from my Bullet Journal:

Simplified guide to Bullet Journaling


Key – Note that I use squares as I am used to it from working in the medical field


Daily/weekly log – Very minimalistic style, this is the best way to start bullet journaling as it is simple and does not require much effort

Posted in History & Literature


When we make a mistake while writing in pen, we usually scribble out the mistake. But whether you draw zigzags, spirals or scratch left and right, it is difficult to complete hide the mistake as the letters will show through the scribble. The brain has a fantastic skill of recognising letters, so it can read between the lines, so to speak.


To truly obscure your mistake or to redact confidential information, the best way to scribble it out is by writing on it. If you write over your mistake repeatedly with random letters of the alphabet, it will completely obscure whatever word lies beneath.

Posted in Simple Pleasures of Life

Simple Pleasures of Life #16

Being in flow state.

If you don’t know what flow state is, I urge you to learn about it: (yes I’m linking you to an ARK post as always).

For me, the things that put me in flow state include playing my guitar, writing ARK and obsessing about a topic and reading everything about it. It’s so hard to describe, but in that state you feel like nothing else matters. It’s just you and whatever you’re doing. The moment.

One of the best advice for having a happy life I’ve found so far is to discover what your flow is. Whether it be playing an instrument, engaging your creativity or sweating it out through sports, if you find even ONE hobby that will put you in that state of mind, trust me, it’ll change your life.

Of course, one of the best flow states to be in is when you’re so engaged in a conversation with a person that time becomes infinite and you never want to leave that conversation.

Posted in Simple Pleasures of Life

Simple Pleasures of Life #22

Being proud of and propagating your cultural heritage.

First of all apologies for not keeping to the “post every day” rule. I had short cases on Tuesday and was up till 4am the night before prepping for it : Was pretty shattered last night so instead of studying I chose to play Magic with a friend for hours, get Nandos for dinner, and watch TV shows until I went to bed early. Recovered since but study is boooring.

Anyway, today was Hangul Day (한글날), yay!!! Hangul is the Korean alphabet and was invented by King Sejong the Great (세종대왕) 567 years ago. It is a beautiful written language that was designed scientifically and logically to better represent sounds, making it easier for common people to learn. To celebrate it, I made a small event on Facebook where I wrote my friends’ names in Korean haha. One friend jokingly said “Arnold Schwarzenegger”, so I happily obliged… along with a sketch 😛

Posted in History & Literature

Han Suk-Bong

Han Suk-Bong is a famous writer from the Joseon Dynasty (Korea during 14th to 19th century), who was praised as “the master writer of the East” even in the Ming Dynasty (China during 14th to 17th century). His writing and calligraphy were partly thanks to his inborn talent, but also because of his intense training and practise throughout his life. There is a famous story regarding his training.

Han Suk-Bong practised calligraphy since a young age by himself, practising every day. The villagers all praised his talent and his mother sent him to a famous temple to study. After four years of studying, Han missed his mother so much that he sneaked out during the night and returned home. When he told his mother that he there was nothing more for him to learn, she told him to turn the lights off and said: “I will slice rice cakes while you write, then we will compare our skills”. After the two silently did their best work in the darkness, they turned the light on and it was evident that Han’s letters were all crooked and unsightly while his mother’s rice cakes were perfectly sliced in even thickness. Han deeply repented his arrogance and realised there was so much more to learn. His mother told him off and told him not to set foot in the house again until he could write perfectly even with his eyes closed, just as she could slice rice cakes perfectly. Thanks to his mother’s passion for his education, Han became one of the most well-known masters of calligraphy and literature in the Far East.

The best type of parent is one who identifies a child’s natural talents early on and helps them develop those skills. If the child becomes lost, loses their way or fall into the pit of arrogance believing they are the best, it is the parent’s duty to correct them. The moment you believe that there is nothing more to learn, you become a failure.